In a weekend pitting two sequels about buddies of mismatched size and an ostensible educational backdrop against each other, audiences went for the one with relatively less cartoonish destruction and far more dick jokes. 22 Jump Street took first place over How To Train Your Dragon 2, earning $60 million to make it the second-highest opening for an R-rated comedy ever, just behind The Hangover Part II. It remains (probably a matter of hours) to be seen whether the buddy-cop franchise will similarly stretch its meta-recycling with a third film, perhaps moving us ever closer to a movie where Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s characters finally just go undercover as actors “Channing Tatum” and “Jonah Hill,” in order to infiltrate a drug ring on the set of a movie called 21 Jump Street. But in the meantime, it’s another 2014 hit for buddy-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who—between The Lego Movie and this—could probably get a green light for whatever they want, even a Clone High movie.
Meanwhile, How To Train Your Dragon 2 improved just slightly over the original, opening with $50 million to its predecessor’s $43.7 million, but that’s still a disappointment considering the high expectations. There are numerous reasons for why it didn’t draw as many moviegoers as predicted: animated sequel fatigue; a spinoff TV series that’s more than fulfilled the audience’s need for stories of dragon-based schooling; the four long, troublesome years that have passed since the first one, which have aged its former child fans into jaded adults who know now that dragons can never truly be tamed—that you will only spend the rest of your life chasing them. And each time, it’s impossible to replicate that original high.
Other, non-drug-related lessons to be learned from this weekend: Word of mouth still matters, as the disappointing opening for Edge Of Tomorrow was counteracted by people taking up the strange case of championing a Tom Cruise sci-fi movie as an underdog and helping it hold steady with a mere 43-percent drop. By contrast, a built-in fanbase can make a huge difference in a film’s debut, as seen in last week’s No. 1 opening for The Fault In Our Stars. But like young love that starts out strong, only to be diminished by time and/or cancer, the very next week you’ve lost nearly 70 percent of your audience and fallen all the way to fifth place—a weakened state that just makes you more attractive, at least.
In limited release, The Signal added yet another twist to its plot, in that it turns out being poorly marketed and reviewed—surprise—translates to just $146,000 in 120 theaters. Australian apocalypse film The Rover, on the other hand, managed the second-best average per theater of the weekend behind 22 Jump Street, with the latest movie in which Robert Pattinson takes a ride through some sort of bleak landscape earning $70,000 on its five screens. Finally, the single-screen debuts for Aaron Paul-starring festival favorite Hellion ($9,000) and wry indie drama A Coffee In Berlin ($4,100) were marginally bested by the two-screen opening for Ivory Tower ($17,000), a documentary looking at the increasing uselessness of college, except as a setting for buddy-cop shenanigans.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.